Two Invitations - Walking Wisely Week 8

Proverbs 9:1-18
Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars; (2) She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; She has also set her table; (3) She has sent out her maidens, she calls From the tops of the heights of the city: (4) "Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!" To him who lacks understanding she says, (5) "Come, eat of my food And drink of the wine I have mixed. (6) "Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding." (7) He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. (8) Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. (9) Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. (10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (11) For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you. (12) If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you alone will bear it. (13) The woman of folly is boisterous, She is naive and knows nothing. (14) She sits at the doorway of her house, On a seat by the high places of the city, (15) Calling to those who pass by, Who are making their paths straight: (16) "Whoever is naive, let him turn in here," And to him who lacks understanding she says, (17) "Stolen water is sweet; And bread eaten in secret is pleasant." (18) But he does not know that the dead are there, That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

I began this series by asking what Pastor Andy Stanley calls, “The Best Question Ever,” namely, “What is the wise thing to do?” The book of Proverbs is chocked full of answers to the best question. We're not interested in asking “What do I want to do?” “What is the good thing to do?” or even, “What is the best thing to do?” No, it is about the wise thing.

Pastor Carlyle Fielding passed on a family story that occurred when his dad was a young man. It seems the young man had gotten in to hanging with a group of guys that were not making wise decisions and were getting into trouble. His father cautioned him but the young man continued to ignore him. Finally, the father asked his son to join him in his study to pray for him (how often are you doing this?). After prayer, the father said to him, “I don't want you running with these guys anymore.” “But Dad,” said the boy, “I'm not better than they are.” The father replied, “I'm not saying you are better than they are. I am saying that you have a better opportunity to make something out of your life.” And it was a lesson he never forgot.

There are two voices that cry out – shout out – even scream out to us. Two invitations are given to us. Solomon tells us those two choices boil down to choosing the way of Lady Wisdom or the way of Mistress Folly.

Wisdom has prepared a beautiful home with seven pillars (9:1). This number 7 throughout scripture implies the idea of completeness and perfection. The book of James in the New Testament sharese (Jam_3:17)the wisdom from above is described as (1) pure, (2) peaceable, (3) gentle, (4) willing to yield, (5) full of mercy and good fruits, (6) without partiality and (7) without hypocrisy. She has got a huge tailgate party spread. It has got the best brisquit and barbque, the best drinks available (9:2). No one is going away hungry.

What does Lady Wisdom desire? Wisdom desires a hearing (9:3) and to that end, wisdom doesn't sit idly by. She goes to the high place and sends out the message to those who are simple (9:4-6). Her promise is wisdom and understanding to those who fear and know God (9:10). Long life is found in wisdom (9:12). The way of wisdom is the BEST LIFE POSSIBLE!!!

But the voice of wisdom has a rival louder and more tempting. She has built nothing as is absent from the descriptions of her. She sits in the doorway or sits at the high place in the city. Believer's Bible Commentary describes her as “loudmouthed, empty-headed and brazen faced.” Another translation says of her that she is “loud, seductive and knows nothing. (ESV). God's Word Translation drops the description “folly” and says, “The woman Stupidity is loud, gullible, and ignorant.”

Folly is tempting – it sounds incredibly like what we want to be seen as in our day and age. But there is an interesting piece here in these words you may or may not have noted. You see, Mistress Folly is 'naïve.' Have you heard that before? Of course, she is no different from those she is calling to! Isn't it interesting that the word the world uses to describe people who follow after Jesus Christ - “naive” is the same word used by the Solomon to describe the world?

Did you hear about the controversy this week regarding Ms. Philippians at the Ms. Universe pagent? She grew up in hut with a dirt floor and no electricity. She worked her way through college. When asked about a major mistake in her life she said she hadn't made any. I listened as the guy on the radio, a member of a more “Open-minded” generation dismissed her answer as being a lie. Really? Did you know that same Hebrew word for naïve can also be translated - “Open-minded?”

The naïve, the silly, the simple calls to the simple and promises much! Stolen pleasures that are enjoyed in secret. They are no more than false promises.

I once met in the woods a former sheep dog. We struck up a conversation. Over the course of the conversation he shared with me how he recently became unemployed. It seemed a pack of coyotes lurked near a sheep pasture. But the dogs kept them at a distance and the sheep grazed safely. But the coyotes planned long and hard. From a distance out hearing of the dogs, the coyotes called out, “why is there always this hostility between us? We are wise and we know you are a simple minded and we have wanted to share our knowledge with you. But it is those dogs who are always stirring up trouble! Send them away and we will be good friends.” Well you can imagine where this is going, the dogs pleaded with the sheep not to send them away. The warned them but the sheep insisted. That evening the coyotes had the grandest feast of their lives.

The promise of Mistress Folly is hidden from the simple. In fact as I said, she her self is simple minded. A fairly accurate translation is that her home is a haunted house and it is the way of death. She promises much but the life she delivers is the worst possible.

It is a book seen as simple wisdom but then the best question is the same – what is the wise thing to do? Jesus said Mat 7:24 NASB "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Tell me church, tell me friends – after you have heard the call of the wise and the foolish, which way will you walk?


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